British Cardholders Embrace Rewards Over APR

About 50% of British consumers prefer a rewards card rather than the 13% who prefer a lower interest rate. A new study found that cashback cards are the most popular type of rewards card. Barclaycard’s “Platinum Cashback Card” was perceived as being the most valuable cash card in the U.K. market offering cardholders 2% cash back on purchases made at petrol stations and supermarkets for life and 0.5% on all other purchases. Auriemma Consulting Group says its research also showed that the majority of reward cards holders (over 60%) find rewards cards to be most valuable when they offer the ability to choose the reward they receive. While only 5% of rewards cardholders have petrol-related benefits, 56% ranked the benefit as highly valuable. Even those not having petrol-based benefits perceived them to be the second most valuable rewards type behind cashback cards. “Citi Shell MasterCard” was perceived as one of the most valuable rewards programs in the market – holders earn up to 6% rebate on fuel purchases.

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FNDS3000 & BANKSERV

FNDS3000 Corp has integrated its platform with Bankserv’s central ATM
Switch, its Bank Identification Number (BIN) has been issued and loaded
at all banks throughout the country. With these developments, South
African consumers can now use FNDS3000 cards at all ATMS in the country.
Live transactions have been successfully performed at all the major
banks, along with many of the smaller banks, and the company is
currently testing cards on its platform for its pilot program to launch
in July. Bankserv processes around 7 trillion worth of transactions per
annum and ensures business continuity by running failsafe systems 24
hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

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CARD ENHANCEMENTS

About 50% of British consumers prefer a rewards card rather than the 13% who prefer a lower interest rate. A new study found that cashback cards are the most popular type of rewards card. Barclaycard’s “Platinum Cashback Card” was perceived as being the most valuable cash card in the U.K. market offering cardholders 2% cash back on purchases made at petrol stations and supermarkets for life and 0.5% on all other purchases. Auriemma Consulting Group says its research also showed that the majority of reward cards holders (over 60%) find rewards cards to be most valuable when they offer the ability to choose the reward they receive. While only 5% of rewards cardholders have petrol-related benefits, 56% ranked the benefit as highly valuable. Even those not having petrol-based benefits perceived them to be the second most valuable rewards type behind cashback cards. “Citi Shell MasterCard” was perceived as one of the most valuable rewards programs in the market – holders earn up to 6% rebate on fuel purchases.

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CHINA UNICOM & ASIAINFO

AsiaInfo has announced it has signed agreements to upgrade China
Unicom’s rechargeable card system to support its nationwide rechargeable
mobile phone card system. The new system upgrade allows China Unicom to
centralize and consolidate management of the independent rechargeable
card systems in various provinces and involves the modification of its
various systems such as the customer relationship management (“CRM”) and
billing systems. This consolidation allows subscribers to add money to
their mobile phone accounts via multiple channels, including Integrated
Voice Response (“IVR”) and Short Message Service (“SMS”) from locations
across China.

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Heartland Payment Systems Earns a Stevie Award

Heartland Payment Systems is the recipient of the 2008 American Business “Stevie” Award for “Best Sales Organization in America.”Heartland, a leading provider of credit/debit/prepaid card processing, payroll, check management and payments services, was selected from over 2,600 entries from business of all sizes and industries. The award adds to the accolades Heartland’s sales organization has recently received. In December 2007, Heartland was recognized by Selling Power magazine as the “Financial Services Sales Organization of the Year,” and Executive Director of Sales and Service Irina Haydon was named “Sales Director of the Year.”

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VENDTEK & MOREMAGIC

MoreMagic Solutions mobile payments platform provider and VendTek Systems automated transaction software have signed distribution
agreements to offer international mobile phone service top ups from
international wireless carriers at 14,000 distribution points throughout
Canada. With this, consumers can top-up the mobile phones of family and
friends in the Caribbean, Latin America, Pakistan and India almost
instantly. These agreements are targeting the 4.8 million
immigrants-15.2% of the total population- that arrived in Canada between
1980 and 2006.

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American Express Anywhere is Introduced

American Express has launched a new mobile service that enables corporate customers to manage travel details and business through their BlackBerry smartphones. The new “American Express Anywhere” service is the results of a collaboration with Rearden Commerce. With a single click of the AmEx icon on their BlackBerry home screen, users can access their personalized travel itinerary, receive real-time travel alerts, scan destination weather information and even click-to-call their travel provider for further assistance. Future phases of “AmEx Anywhere” will let users view their airport parking and car service reservations, share itinerary details with others, find restaurants nearby, place reservations and much more. “AmEx Anywhere” will also be offered to “AmEx Express Business Travel” clients in other market segments as a mobile companion to its “Intelligent Online Marketplace.”

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C-Store Sheetz Unveils the Pump First Card

Innovative PA-based convenience store chain, Sheetz has launched a new card to combat gas station drive-offs while giving its loyal and honest cash customers a more convenient way to pay. The new “Pump First” card is being introduced in selected markets in Maryland and West Virgina. The new card is linked to the driver’s license to provide a method of identification, giving cash paying customers the freedom to start the pumps themselves, even if paying with cash or check for gasoline. To consumers with a valid driver’s license, the “Pump First” card is available free of charge and is being introduced in conjunction with revisions to the organization’s payment policy. Sheetz operates 350 c-stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.

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Wireless ATM/POS Terminals Set to Take-Off

A new study predicts that cellular embedded modules used to connect ATM/POS terminals to financial institutions will increase approximately fivefold over the next five years. Global shipments of POS and ATM terminals are expected to increase by about 50% over the same period. According to ABI Research, Hypercom, VeriFone, and Ingenico now account for some 70% of the market and all three are solidly committed to the introduction of wireless technology, which gives a tremendous boost to cellular’s penetration of this market. ABI says the clear advantages of cellular connectivity are proving persuasive. It allows greater flexibility in deployment and better functionality with faster service and better management. In emerging markets, it can overcome a lack of wired infrastructure.

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SoftLayer and McAfee Team for PCI Compliance

SoftLayer and McAfee have partnered to provide customers with McAfee’s comprehensive Payment Card Industry (PCI) security compliance scanning service at no cost- a $319 annual value- to help SoftLayer customers meet the requirements of PCI DSS version 1.1. The PCI standards are required by credit card companies and banks of merchants worldwide, which McAfee provides in addition to a host of additional service features. These additional features include scheduled quarterly/unlimited manual scans, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) vulnerability remediation support, online self-assessment questionnaire assistance, online assistance for preparing a required PCI security policy, telephone technical support and a full-service program starting at 6 IP addresses. McAfee dedicated security technology company delivers proactive solutions and services that secure systems and networks around the world while Softlayer delivers next-generation web hosting and on-demand data center services.

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Card ABS Can Withstand High Unemployment

U.S. credit card ABS could withstand significant increases in unemployment from current levels before ‘BBB’ or ‘AAA’ bonds default, but downgrade risk persists, particularly at the subordinate level as unemployment levels have increase substantially over the past 12 months, according to Fitch Ratings in a new report. The study, which focused primarily on the level of unemployment that would cause first dollar defaults in credit card ABS transactions, determined that typical ‘AAA’ rated transactions could withstand an increase in the unemployment rate of up to 20%, all other factors being equal. In addition, Fitch determined that typical ‘BBB’ rated transactions could withstand an increase in the unemployment rate of up to 10%, again with all other factors being equal.

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Consumer Confidence Index Slides in June

A monthly benchmark has found that consumer confidence declined again in June. The Conference Board “Consumer Confidence Index”, now stands at 50.4, down from 58.1 in May. Consumers’ assessment of present conditions grew dimmer for the month as well. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased to 32.5% from 29.7%, while those claiming business conditions are “good” declined to 11.5% from 13.0% last month. The outlook for the labor market was also more pessimistic. The percent of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead increased to 35.5% from 32.3%, while those anticipating more jobs declined to 8.0% from 9.0%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 12.3% from 14.1%.

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